Outlander effect leads to surging numbers at Scots castles

Historic Environment Scotland figures show impact of hit TV series.

Stirling Castle: Footfall increased by 7%. <strong>Historic Scotland</strong>
Stirling Castle: Footfall increased by 7%. Historic Scotland

The Outlander effect has led to a surge in visitors to Scottish castles, according to new figures.

Doune Castle, Stirling, saw a 14% increase in footfall after 142,091 people visited last year.

Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness meanwhile welcomed more than half a million people for the first time, up 6% to 518,195 visits.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said many visitors have been drawn to the sites by the so-called Outlander effect, named after the hit TV series based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels.


With 605,241 people making a trip Stirling Castle – an increase of 7% – it was the second most visited of HES staffed heritage sites in 2018.

As in previous years, Edinburgh Castle came out top with 2,111,578 visitors, an increase of 2%.

Outlander continued to draw people to historic locations, with Blackness Castle in West Lothian reaching 50,000 visitors for the first time – an increase of 36% from the previous year.

Overall footfall to HES staffed sites grew by 5% from 2017 to 5,229,049.


Stephen Duncan, HES commercial and tourism director, said: “As well as the Outlander effect bringing international visitors to Scotland to explore its rich history, we have also seen an increase in the number of Scots visiting heritage sites as evidenced in our highest ever membership figure.

“With Scotland being used as a filming location for productions such as Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots, we hope visitors will continue to be inspired to explore the history of the sites they see on the big screen.”

HES looks after 300 heritage sites, including 77 staffed Historic Scotland attractions.

Glasgow Cathedral and Skara Brae were among its top ten visited sites last year, along with Linlithgow Palace, St Andrew’s Castle, Fort George and Iona Abbey.

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